An interesting article in The Atlantic explained that traditionally nursing homes have operated in a fashion similar to asylums, with their primary purpose to serve as residential medical institutions. Even though this is still too common in most nursing homes, there is a gradual “culture change” towards a more personal resident-centered care and a more home-like facility.  In these new facilities pets and children are welcome to visit and residents are encouraged to take part in voluntary, every-day tasks such as maintaining a plant, selecting and “ordering” their meals like in a restaurant, and preparing their own snacks. Also, the resident and their family members are more involved in creating their own personalized care plan. All of these improvements aim to give the residents a greater sense of empowerment and an improved quality of life.

This shift focuses on building strong relationships between the residents and care givers and making the facility’s environment as welcoming and personal as possible.  Most national for profits chains have not adopted this cultural change especially in Southern states.  According to The Alliance for Quality Nursing home care, more than half of the nation’s nursing homes are participating in this change of culture where facilities consider individual residents’ needs instead just operating in an uniform, institutionalized style.  See article in Senior Housing Newshere.

However there are encouraging developments for this positive shift in nursing home “culture.”  The new Medicare/Medicaid Quality Indicator Survey is very resident-focused rather than focused on the facility as a whole.  For example, the Survey concentrates more on if the individual residents are being served food that meets their personal nutritional needs and taste than general facility details such as what time meals are being served.

It is important to for nursing homes to continue to look past their outdated traditions and seek more innovative ways to care for residents and improve their quality of life.

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